Category: North East

Perfect Family Friendly Glamping at Derwent View

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ll have seen my post last year about our first time Glamping at Springhill Farm in Northumberland. We loved glamping so much we decided to give it another go this year- at Derwent View.

We decided to try somewhere else, but as I work every Friday and Saturday it was proving quite difficult to book up anywhere as most sites have a minimum 2 night stay at weekends. Luckily though, I noticed on Facebook that a local site, Derwent View, had some last minute pods available for a Saturday night and quickly sent a message to book up!

Prices for the pods start from just £50.00 per night for bronze up to £150.00 for platinum with a hot tub and they have one pod which is dog friendly. We opted for a gold pod which was £68.00 for the night, as these one’s have a TV/DVD which we thought would be perfect for the kids at bedtime. These pods also have two sofa beds which meant we had loads of room inside during the day and had really comfy beds to sleep on during the night.

This was the full contents of our pod ‘Lizards Lodge’ which sleeps up to a family of 4;

  • 2 Sofa Beds
  • Lights
  • USB Sockets
  • Night Time Heater
  • Dining Table/Chairs
  • Kettle
  • Toaster
  • Fridge
  • Microwave
  • TV/DVD
  • Dustpan & Brush
  • Lockable Door
  • 1 Parking Space
  • Outdoor Picnic Bench
  • Outside Decking
  • Firepit/BBQ

When we arrived we were greeted by one of the owners, Margie, who took our payment and deposit (£30.00 which is returned upon departure once your pod has been inspected) and then showed us around. She showed us to our pod and then the toilet block and explained that they operate a ‘Leave it as you would expect to find it’ policy, which basically means that once you’ve done what you need to do, whether it be the toilet or a shower, make sure you mop up on your way out. That way it’s clean for the next person. This obviously works really well too as the whole building is always spotless! There’s also an outdoor sink for washing up.

Once we were unpacked we decided to have a little walk around as it was a beautiful day. The views over the Derwent Reservoir are absolutely stunning! We headed straight over to see the ducklings Margie had told us about- the kids were in their element being able to run free and spot all of the wildlife!

What we didn’t realise before we booked up, is that they also have a lovely little tearoom on site. As we headed up in a bit of a rush after I’d finished work, we thought the kids could do with some refreshment after all of the running around- and we’d been told that they had an alcohol license for the weekend! You can check in anytime from 2pm but we didn’t want to get there too late as the weather was gorgeous and we were only staying one night.

The next couple of hours were spent munching on toasties and crisps, drinking juice (and booze for me & G!) and getting to know the owners until the kids were so tired out and it was time for their pajamas! Although once they were in their pajamas they were back outside with their coats and shoes on running around exploring which we were happy to let them do as the whole area around the pods is fenced and gated off.

Clearly to G this quiet time meant it was time to get the fire lit. You can purchase the bags of wood and fire starter kits from the owners for £5 each. Keeps the blokes happy!

Whilst G was messing about with the fire, I set the beds up- easiest thing ever too- settled the kids into bed and put a DVD on for them. Within about 20 minutes they were both flat out! We were a bit worried that they wouldn’t settle not being in their own beds but it clearly didn’t bother them. One of the best things of being able to let them explore in the fresh air then!

This meant we had more time to sit round the fire and have a few more ciders before bed- that’s what I call finishing the day off properly! The site also operates a ‘low noise policy’ which means that whilst they’re happy for you to stay around the fire, use the hot tub etc at night, after 10pm they ask that noise is kept to a conversation level. Another reason why it’s perfect for families.

After a full, uninterrupted nights sleep, the kids both woke up at 8am! Check out is 10.30am prompt, so this meant we still had plenty of time to enjoy breakfast on the picnic table we had outside, pack the car up and have another walk around before heading home. Once we were all sorted and I’d given the pod a sweep, Margie inspected it and we we’re given our deposit back before we left.

We enjoyed our stay at Derwent View so much that we’ve already been back this past bank holiday weekend for two nights and enjoyed it even more than our first visit! We’ve even already booked up to go back for G’s birthday in August and we can’t wait!

Have a look for yourself on Facebook, Instagram and their Website.

Mother Hermit xx

 

Turtle Bay Comes To Middlesbrough!

So if you follow me on social media you probably noticed that I was lucky enough to attend a special preview evening of the new Turtle Bay restaurant in Middlesbrough last Wednesday night. This was basically a small gathering of North East bloggers, PR’s and I believe local councillors, who were all invited along to preview their new menu before it opens it’s doors on 23rd April 2017.

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Firstly, why on earth have I never visited a Turtle Bay restaurant before?! “Rum, Reggae, Jerk” , can you get any better than that?! From the moment you walk through the door of this place you feel an instant relaxation. From the smooth reggae tunes and the ridiculously friendly (in a good way!) staff to the amazingly refreshing cocktails and massive choice of rums (over 40!), it’s pretty impossible not to have a smile on your face within the first few minutes of your visit.

Cocktails

If you just fancy popping in for a few cocktails there’s definitely plenty to choose from, whether it be a boozy one or a soft drink. My personal favourite had to be the Bahama Mama which is full of fruity flavours and finished off with some coconut rum and banana liqueur- total amazeballs indeed! What’s even better though is that they have a ‘Happy Hour’ where all cocktails are 2’4’1 all day, every day until 7pm and again from 10pm! If you’re feeling a bit peckish too they offer some moreish bar snacks of Jamaican Jerk Nuts, Spicy Pork Rinds and Jam Rock Spiced Popcorn- I couldn’t stop nibbling, especially the popcorn.

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So onto the important part; the food! The first dishes brought to our tables were the Just Jerk Platter and the Vital Veggie Platter.

jerkplatterThe Jerk platter has a selection of pork ribs, wings, beef riblets, beef patties, sweetcorn fritters, spicy popcorn and a super green salad and every single element of this sharing dish is absolutely incredible. Every piece of meat was cooked to perfection and literally fell from the bone and melted in the mouth.

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The Veggie platter consisted of okra, grilled mushrooms and peppers, pepper roti, flat bread, curried chickpeas and again the sweetcorn fritters and super green salad. Now I’m not a vegetarian and probably wouldn’t have chose to order this myself so I have to admit that I was totally surprised by the utter deliciousness of everything on here! Especially the okra- I’d have that again no problem!

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Next up, we were brought two curries to try; Bajan Beef Cheeks and Spinach, Aubergine and Sweet Potato Curry.

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Like the meat on the Jerk Platter, the Bajan beef cheeks were incredibly succulent and tender. It had a lovely spice to it but it was quite mild, perfect for me.

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The Spinach, Aubergine and Sweet Potato Curry was again gorgeous. The vegetables were cooked just right; soft enough to enjoy but still full of flavour. I don’t think I’d manage a full portion of this though, it was a tad more spicy than the beef!

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After the curries we noticed that the BBQ was in action which of course meant, Jerk Chicken!

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A 24 hour marinated and pit grilled chicken, smothered in jerk seasoning, sour orange chutney and fresh coconut shavings, served up with coconut rice ‘n’ peas. Incredible. I love everything about this dish- it totally shouts ‘Caribbean’ and the flavours speak volumes.

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If you don’t fancy chicken though, I’d have to recommend this one, the Slow Braised Beef Rib which was my favourite of the night! This was dished up with some sweet tattie fries and some watermelon, lime and coriander chow salad which was absolutely incredible! The very thought of fruit with savoury makes me feel uncomfortable for some reason, but I have to admit that this combination of sweet and spice worked beautifully. It’s making me hungry just thinking about it…

Parmo

Next up (I know, how much food?!), was the chefs own surprise creation which isn’t actually on the menu and was a total one off for us; The Turtle Bay Jerk Parmo!

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As the ‘Parmo’ was created in Middlesbrough I thought this was a lovely touch! I have to admit though, as I’m closer to Newcastle (Upon Tyne), I’ve probably only ever tried a few Parmo’s in my life. And those that I have tried have been rather dry and greasy! But the Jerk Parmo? This was on another level. The flavours were just incredible and as with the rest of the meat through the evening, the chicken was tender and there was plenty of it! This should definitely be on the menu, or at least on a secret menu!

By this point I was slipping into a major food coma and was just about ready for bed, but then we were brought a dessert selection to have a try of! Like I wasn’t going to try any, right?!

dessert

Banana & Toffee Cheesecake, Fresh BBQ Pineapple, Rum & Raisin Bread Pudding, Dark Chocolate Brownie and my absolute favourite, the Passion Pie. Think lemon meringue pie but instead of lemon this is passion fruit, not as sharp but gorgeously sweet and fruity. I couldn’t get enough of it and made my food coma worse by eating quite a bit of it! The toffee and banana cheesecake was gorgeous too, in fact every element of this dish was, but I will definitely be ordering the Passion Pie again when I return!

I headed home pretty sharpish after dessert as the food had definitely won and I was literally ready to fall into bed! This is hands down my new favourite restaurant and I can’t recommend it enough- even if you’re just in the mood for some cocktails, you have to give Turtle Bay a try! And it’s open now! (Opened 23rd April 2017)

Have you ever visited a Turtle Bay restaurant? What did you think?

Mother Hermit xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Bazaar at Preston Park Museum

We visited Preston Park Museum in the Summer this year for their Great British Summer event and absolutely loved it. So when I noticed that they were having a Christmas Bazaar last weekend I knew we’d be missing out if we didn’t go for another visit! Whilst talking to my friend on Saturday evening I mentioned that we were going and invited Sarah and her family along- everyone loves a Christmassy day out!

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On Sunday morning we jumped in the car ready for the forty minute drive to Preston Park. Obviously the weather this time was totally different to the last time we visited so this time we were all wrapped up, ready for the day ahead.

When we arrived we headed straight through the gift shop, (which was super Christmassy!) and into another room which was filled with stalls selling allsorts of Christmas gifts and decorations. I had my eye on a few things but decided to hang on and see what else was on show as we didn’t really know what to expect.

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From this room we then exited into the replica 1895 Victorian Street which, exactly like last time, was abuzz with people, some dressed the part in Victorian wear. There were also a lot more stalls selling anything and everything from illuminating candles to cheese! The street itself was decorated beautifully and we could hear a brass band playing as we walked further along. Most of the shops were still open as normal so you could still pop in to have a look and all of the volunteers were more than happy to stop and chat and explain things for you.

We had a slot booked to visit Santa, aka Father Christmas, in his grotto so we pretty much headed straight there with our rather excited kids. Violet’s never visited Santa before so she was a little nervous! Mrs Claus was already there at the door to chat with us and keep the little ones entertained whilst we waited our turn. We didn’t have to wait long though, within five minutes he was ready for us and the kids were straight in. Violet was rather shy and nervous but seeing that look of sheer delight on her face was priceless!

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The grotto itself was amazing! It was all decorated and set up perfectly with a nice and toasty fire, a proper (real) Christmas tree and traditional decorations. I was pretty impressed with Santa too. He was really good with the kids, asking them lots of questions, answering any questions they had and they both received an early present from him too. We didn’t feel rushed at all and he offered to have some pictures taken with the kids which I thought was a lovely touch! Violet loves telling everyone she had her photo taken with Santa now- even though she doesn’t look too impressed on the photo!

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Next we headed over the courtyard to another room where you could make your own Magic Reindeer Food! I loved this one! It was set up with a line of tables and on each table was a different item so by the end of the line you had your very own finished bag of the food. Then on Christmas Eve the little ones can sprinkle this all over their garden, so the glitter will shine bright and guide the reindeer to their house- perfect little item for Christmas Eve boxes!

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The staff were really helpful with this activity and didn’t hesitate to help Violet whilst I took some photos of her.

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Next up, the donkeys. Now the donkeys made an appearance the last time we visited as they fit with the Summer and beach theme perfectly. Well, they actually fit with the Christmas theme too- if you stick some antlers on them! They looked super cute bless them! Both of the kids had a turn each and enjoyed it as they got to have a ride around the orchard. 
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After the donkey rides were done we were all feeling a bit peckish so headed off to see where the amazing smells were coming from. We found a couple of food vans selling hot food and luckily there wasn’t a queue so I headed straight for Blackwells of Norton for pie, peas and gravy! I have absolutely no idea why there wasn’t a queue as it was perfect comfort food for a cold day and at £3.50, an absolute bargain- I was expecting to pay a lot more!

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The blokes had burgers and hotdogs from another stand which were also pretty cheap at £3.00. They said they were good but as they’re men, no photo’s could be taken before they were inhaled! Typical 🙂

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After our lunch stop we then headed on to have a peruse of some more market stalls, passing some rather colourful entertainers on the way!

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There was another marquee full of stalls with all sorts of different items available to purchase for Christmas presents. I bought a gorgeous hot chocolate spoon for Violet’s Christmas Eve box, another hot chocolate mix for two, a brownie in a jar baking kit and a cupcake for Violet- this didn’t even come to £10 so again I was surprised with how reasonable the prices were.

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After another walk around and a few small purchases made by both families, we headed on out of the museum so the kids could have a good hour on the park to burn off some energy!

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All in all we had an absolutely fantastic day yet again at Preston Park Museum. The Bazaar was on for last weekend only, however they have lots more festive activities planned in the run up to Christmas and you can visit Santa every Saturday and Sunday until the 18th of December. A family ticket into the museum costs just £5.00 (2 Adults and up to 4 Children) and lasts the whole year, so you can visit as many times as you like! You can find their website here.

Have you visited before?

Mother Hermit xx

One Night In A WigWam

Camping. I absolutely love camping. I remember in Summertime when I was little my Dad used to help me and my little sister put a two-man tent up in the back garden and we would spend the whole day in it. We would cosy up with our duvet, playing all sorts of games for hours and even eat all of our meals inside the tent. When we were a bit older, on summer nights we would sleep in it in the back garden too but my parents never actually took us anywhere to camp properly- I think it was my Mam’s worst nightmare holiday!

When I was in secondary school I ended up signing up to the Duke of Edinburgh Award, purely for the walking, hiking and camping and my first proper holiday with G was a week in the Lake District in a tent! Since we’ve had kids though we’ve never been and our tent and camping gear has been wrapped up in their bags and shoved in the loft, but recently I’ve seen a lot of blog posts about ‘camping with young children’ and have been tempted by the idea of taking our two. Whilst doing a bit of camping research online though I came across ‘Glamping’ and noticed a lot of WigWams as an alternative to a tent. So I decided to see if I could find one not too far from home for us to try for a night as a kind of ‘trial run’ to see how the kids liked it. This is when I came across Springhill Farm, a caravan, camping and wigwam site on a working farm in Seahouses, Northumberland.


Once Little V had finished nursery on Monday we packed up the car and headed up to Springhill Farm, an hours drive from where we live. The car was pretty full for just the one night but having two kids under three, plus the fact that you need to take all of your own bedding, we were pretty happy we managed to fit everything in! We’d already received an email which confirmed that there would be a sign in the reception window to tell us which WigWam we would be staying in and that the key would be in the door of the accommodation for us to just let ourselves in anytime after 2pm. Sure enough our name was shown, matched up with number 6, and the key was in the door. Unfortunately as soon as we got there the heavens opened so we quickly unpacked the car and made ourselves comfortable inside the WigWam.


I couldn’t believe how much room we had inside! It’s amazing how the WigWams have been designed to fit so much in. We had a fridge and kettle, plenty storage shelves and room under the sofa’s/beds to store more, a huge seating area and table which also converted into the bed and a heater- massive bonus with having the two kids but we didn’t actually use it after the first 10 minutes as it’s so well insulated, there was nowhere for the heat to escape! (Unless we opened the door and windows obviously…)

After spending some time settling in we decided to head out for a little walk around the site since the rain seemed to have let up a bit. We managed to head over to the reception, grab some milk from the small shop and use the toilet before the rain got heavier again but we’d promised Violet we’d find the park so decided to brave it a little longer. It wasn’t hard to find and her face totally lit up when she seen it but obviously it was soaked. That didn’t put her off though, she climbed straight up to the top of the slide but at the top she seemed to have a quiet moment of contemplation- ‘do I go down and get a wet bum or go back down the ladder?!’ Hmmm… decisions of a two year old! obviously she flew down it and started screaming in panic that she had a wet bum so we headed straight back to the wigwam to get dry.

As we were only staying for the one night we hadn’t bothered to pack anything for our evening meal so we could eat out but with the weather being miserable all we wanted was to share a takeaway, so we headed into Seahouses to pick up a pizza and chips- and it was delicious! On site there is a communal kitchen for the use of wigwam occupants only so we decided to eat our dinner in there. What a fantastic area it is too! With ovens, kettles, fridge freezer, all the pots, pans, crockery you could need, condiments, plenty of tables, highchairs and even a television on the wall, we were sorted. There’s also a BBQ area outside in between the WigWams which you can hire, it’s all undercover and looks really pretty when it’s dark as it’s covered in lights. If we’d have stayed another night we definitely would have booked in to use it for dinner.

Once the takeaway was demolished (we don’t mess around with food in this family!) we headed back to the WigWam to get into our pj’s. We didn’t get to use the fire pit which was outside of the wigwam as the rain was getting heavier and heavier and clearly wasn’t going to stop so I crafted some marshmallow sandwiches in chocolate biscuits for Violet. It was so easy to make the bed up and again we were so surprised at how big it was, no chance of being squashed at all! With the kids tucked in, a few cans of cider were shared between me & G and by about 11pm we were so tired we crawled into bed.

What an amazing sleep we had too. All the fresh air of being in the countryside and the comfiness of the bed meant we all woke up early totally refreshed and the kids were both in a good mood- tells you how well they slept! We had to check out of the WigWam by 10am so we jumped up, headed to the bathrooms for a wash and then packed up the car to go strawberry picking!

So our stay in a WigWam with the kids was an absolute success- apart from the bad weather obviously but no camping trip is complete without rain! We can’t wait to go back and hopefully have some nice weather so we can explore a bit more and I think we’ll stay for 2 or 3 nights next time now that we know the kids were okay. Being away from technology was amazing too, it’s nice to have a break every now and again (Wifi is available on site at an extra charge if you really need it). Although I’m glad we took Violet’s tablet and charger because of the rain we needed something to entertain her and she’s not quite at the card playing or board games age yet.

If you’re like me and you’ve been contemplating the ‘camping with kids’ holiday, I totally recommend you try a WigWam and if you’re visiting the North East I totally recommend you book up at Springhill Farm- although it’s fully booked through the school holidays and I’m constantly checking the website for cancellations ha!

Take a look at Springhill Farm here or if you’d like to find something closer to you take a look at the Glamping UK- WigWam Holidays website here!

Have you tried a wigwam before? What did you think?

Mother Hermit xx

 

 

 

Thaikhun Menu Review

I’ve been looking forward to today for weeks, since I was asked by the guys at Thaikhun in the Metrocentre if I’d like to visit with my family to try out their new menu, specifically the new children’s menu. Obviously that was an easy yes, especially as the kids were invited too- although Billy at 5.5 months is a good eater, he’s not quite at the point where he’s interested too much in finger food but Violet has an amazing appetite and I knew she’d be perfect to give the new menu a go!


When we arrived we were shown straight to our booth and Violet was given crayons, a colouring page and a pot of vegetable sticks (cucumber, carrot and peppers) all within about 30 seconds- perfect start! The lovely lady then took our drinks order, gave us a menu each and explained the new children’s menu to us. She also informed us that each kids meal comes with a pot of creepy crawlies and asked if we wanted some for Violet! Obviously she was nodding her head and saying yes please before we’d even realised what the lady had said! Creepy crawlies? Like- to eat?! Yep. Pretty quickly our drinks were brought over along with a basket of prawn crackers and a sweet chilli dip and we were given a pot of the said crawlies which Violet wasn’t phased by in the slightest and as soon as I opened the pot she looked at me so innocently and said “Mama I eat them?”. She then went on to shovel them into her mouth and even started dipping her vegetable sticks into them- I was amazed at how adventurous my little madam was and I totally loved it! I had one too and they weren’t bad at all- but i’ll eat anything and have the nickname of ‘dustbin’ so don’t take my word for it.


We decided to go for a starter and a main because we’ve never really had thai food apart from the occasional red or green curry so we wanted to try a few savoury dishes. It took us a while to choose because everything sounds so good but G settled on Gai Satay to start (Grilled Chicken Skewers) followed by Khao Moo Daeng Moo Grob (Barbequed Pork on Rice) and I chose the Goong Choop Pang Tord (Tempura Prawns) followed by the Ped Phad Prik Pao (Roast Duck with Chilli Paste). On the children’s menu you can either choose from Phad Thai, Fried Chicken with Jasmine Rice or you can make your own dish by choosing either Jasmine Rice or Noodles with Grilled Chicken, Pork or Mixed Vegetables and then a sauce of no nuts Satay, sweet BBQ or a slightly spicy Green Curry. We chose noodles, grilled chicken and BBQ sauce for Violet. They also get a drink and a mini milk ice lolly included and we were given the option of when we would like her meal to come and as she was already preoccupied with creepy crawlies, vegetables and colouring we chose to have hers brought with our mains.

The restaurant itself is absolutely fantastic and is exactly how I would imagine an authentic eatery in Bangkok to look like. Once we’d placed our order we found ourselves just staring around taking the whole place in and we loved the open kitchen! From where we were sitting we could see straight into the kitchen area and see the chefs at work and the aromas really do make your mouth water.


It wasn’t long before our starters arrived and they were oh so good! The Tempura Prawns were huge, really meaty (as meaty as seafood can be!), fresh and delicious and the batter had the perfect crisp to it. Violet pinched one off me and I have to admit I was pretty gutted as I wanted to eat them all, but again it was lovely to see her be so adventurous with her food. G’s Chicken Skewers were gorgeous too, obviously I pinched a cheeky bite- the best part though was the Satay sauce- it was sooo tasty and had so much flavour, when they came to clear the plates we asked if we could keep the bowl on the table for the rest of the meal.



Again we didn’t have to wait long for our mains which as expected all looked and smelled amazing. Violet’s meal came on a tray, like a school dinner tray, with everything in separate parts, which is perfect for her as she likes to have everything like that rather than it already mixed together. She dug in rather quickly and by the time we had finished our mains had put a good dent in it and finally gave up with an exclamation of “Oh I really enjoyed that!”- high praise indeed. Obviously she managed to eat her strawberry mini milk though. G’s didn’t last long either, it was inhaled rather quickly as was mine. Everything was cooked beautifully, made with really fresh ingredients and the flavours were like nothing we’ve had before.



We were so stuffed by the end of it we couldn’t even contemplate having a dessert but we’re already planning on going back and we’ll have to try one. I can’t fault anything about our experience at Thaikhun today, the staff were all very friendly and the food was amazing, Violet absolutely loved it and even took her leftover creepy crawlies home for supper! This is totally somewhere you need to try with the kids!

Thanks for having us guys!

Mother Hermit xx

We were very kindly invited for this complimentary meal in exchange for an honest review. All views and opinions are that of my own.

 

Strawberry Picking at Brockbushes

Strawberry picking. Something I’ve wanted to do for years, even before we had kids, but something we’ve never actually got around to doing. So a couple of weeks ago, after spending the night in Seahouses, as we were packing up the car getting ready to say farewell to our Wig Wam, the sun had finally decided to make an appearance, and we headed straight to Corbridge to go strawberry picking at Brockbushes Farm and Tea Room.

By the time we arrived Little V was on a mission to find the strawberries and couldn’t contain herself any longer, so we literally ran to the picking fields, paid our fee to enter, grabbed our basket and ran to our nominated area. 

We spent a good twenty minutes picking the biggest, juciest strawberries we could find through the rows of plants- basically until I realised how many we had in the basket because we couldn’t fit anymore in! Little V absolutely loved looking under all of the leaves to find the biggest stawberries and got so excited at the fact that she could pick them herself! 

By this point we were all a bit peckish so headed down to the tea room for some lunch. Can’t beat a latte and a cheese toastie break! We opted for a kids box meal for V which consisted of a sandwich, crisps, biscuits and juice- which was quickly inhaled- all that running through the fields gave her such an appetite.  

Unfortunately we didn’t get to try the famous cakes and scones as after a further twenty minute wait we were still without and couldn’t hang on any longer as the kids were restless and ready for home. Hopefully we’ll get to try them next time as we’re planning on going back for raspberry picking!
Our first family fruit picking experience was definitely a success and we had a great time. And what did we make with our harvest?! 

Strawberry Cake of course! 😁🍰


Have you been strawberry picking this year yet?

Mother Hermit xx

The Kingslodge Inn- Menu Review

Okay I’m guessing by now you get how much I LOVE food?! So imagine how excited I was to be invited to The Kingslodge Inn in Durham to try their new menu! Very excited. Another perfect excuse for a date night for me and G too so we headed over there with rumbling tummies on Wednesday evening.

The Kingslodge Inn is in Durham City Centre but you honestly wouldn’t think so as it’s hidden away in beautiful quiet woodland, yet it’s only a few minutes walk from the train station and shops. The building itself is so pretty, with outdoor seating and gardens all around the property and it also has quite a good size car park.

As soon as we walked through the entrance to the restaurant we were greeted by a lovely lady who took our names and then showed us to our table. Whilst we were settling in she gave us a menu, told us the specials for the day and explained that food and drink orders were to be ordered and paid for at the bar. The inside matches the outside perfectly. The decor is that of a traditional inn, with photographs of local landmarks making you feel very comfortable. I can only imagine how gorgeous the 23 rooms upstairs are.


The menu had me stumped. I couldn’t decide what I wanted because there was so much to choose from and everything sounded gorgeous. G went for the Black Pudding topped with Poached Egg, Bacon pieces and Peppercorn sauce to start and I chose the Portobello Mushrooms (stuffed with Blue cheese and bacon lardons). I have to say that the presentation of these starters was beautiful and not what we were expecting at all. The Portobello Mushrooms were cooked perfectly, smothered in melted blue cheese but not too much to overpower the flavour of the other elements and the bacon lardons added a crunch to the dish. With G’s starter, the Black pudding was delicious and he too loved the crunch of the crisp bacon pieces. The perfectly cooked, runny yolked poached egg and peppercorn sauce worked so well with the dish and the portions of both starters were very reasonable- they’d be perfect for a light lunch!

When it came to picking the mains it was an easy decision for G- The Kingslodge Burger. As I mentioned previously in my NinjaBurger post, he has to try the burgers wherever we go. I have to admit though that I was being a bit nosy whilst we were browsing the menu to choose (because I couldn’t decide!) and noticed that a gentleman at the table across from us had ordered The Kingslodge Curry of the day which was Thai Red and it looked incredible! It didn’t disappoint. The portion size was absolutely huge, my photo doesn’t do it justice, that bowl of curry was very deep! I’m not complaining at all because it was amazing, packed full of flavour, creamy and coconutty with just the right amount of kick. The chicken was succulent and the mixture of green vegetables were very fresh and crunchy and complimented the curry perfectly. The hand cut chips, rice and naan breads were all gorgeous too and were the perfect accompaniment to the dish. I couldn’t eat it all but I gave it a good go- to be fair there wasn’t much left, I’m not one for wasting food. G’s burger was inhaled rather quickly with nothing but good comments to follow. He said that the Aberdeen Angus steak mince was so tasty, the bun was really fresh and that the coleslaw was amazing. High praise indeed from the burger connoisseur himself.

Notice the size of the curry bowl in the background!

Now by this point we were both ready to burst but the way the desserts were flying out of the kitchen we just had to try one. G opted for the Sticky Toffee Sundae- layers of Sticky Toffee Pudding, ice cream and topped off with Chantilly cream and a wafer. It looked incredible and didn’t last very long so that’s more praise from him. I opted for the Double Chocolate Brownie with vanilla ice cream, which we were later told had just been made fresh that morning and oh you could tell. It was to die for. The brownie was served warm which made it even more gooey and the extra drizzle of chocolate sauce on top didn’t hurt. I took my time with it simply because it was so beautiful, it’s not something you can rush. Alongside the chocolatey goodness was the creamiest vanilla ice cream. It’s fair to say that there was nothing left of dessert!

This was a lovely date night for us in a beautiful place with incredible food and I’m not ashamed to admit that I had to unbutton my jeans in the car on the way home because I was so full! We’re already planning to go back with our daughter as it’s a family friendly place and she needs to sample the children’s menu. It’s also dog friendly but there’s no way our Lola would sit quietly whilst we enjoyed a pint- she’s far too lively for that!

I honestly cannot fault The Kingslodge Inn at all, everything was perfect from the friendliness of the staff, the relaxing atmosphere and the perfect food. We can’t wait to go back and try some more dishes from the menu.

If you fancy a look too you can find their special offers on the website here.

Mother Hermit xx

We were invited along to The Kingslodge Inn for a complimentary three-course meal in return for this review. All views, opinions and photographs are that of my own.

LoveNorthEast

Las Iguanas- Newcastle Grey Street

Last night my sister and I took my Mother-in-Law over to Newcastle as we had bought tickets to the theatre as a surprise for her 60th Birthday. The past couple of weeks I had been looking online to find somewhere to go for pre-theatre food and cocktails but couldn’t decide on anywhere, so after a quick tweet to CannyFood and the recommendation of Las Iguanas, the table was booked.

I’d booked the table for 5.30pm as the show was due to start at 7.30pm and I wanted to make sure we had plenty of time and didn’t feel we had to rush our food and drinks. When we arrived I was a bit worried because it looked rammed! The bar was absolutely packed and because the sun was out everyone was making the most of it at the outside tables. We went in through the restaurant entrance and was quickly greeted and shown straight to our table. The friendly staff member then brought us a few different menus and went through each one with us, explaining that it was buy one get one free on a wide selection of cocktails all day-every day and told us that we could order from the main menu but our best option was to order from the lunch and pre evening menu as this was available until 6.30pm. We ordered some drinks, cocktails for me and my sister and Brahma for the MiL, and were left for a few minutes to make our dinner selections.


We decided to share a breadboard and some extra Pao De Queijo (cheese dough balls) to start and ordered our mains from the lunch and pre evening menu as recommended. Myself and the MiL chose the Cuban Sandwich and my sister went for the Blazing Bird. Within about five minutes our starters and drinks arrived- very quick service considering how busy the restaurant was. The bar had quietened right down by this point too. The breadboard consisted of ciabatta, jalapeno cornbread and cheese dough balls which were gorgeous, every item was so fresh and soft but we weren’t too sure on the jalapeno cornbread as it was quite sweet and the texture was quite like a cake. Everything else was cleared up quite quickly with the chipotle butter which was a lovely smokey and slightly spicy accompaniment.


Once we had finished our plates were cleared and again within minutes our mains were served. My sister’s choice looked amazing. Half a chicken in a Honey Peri-Peri glaze with curly fries. But there’s no way I would have chosen it over the Cuban sandwich. Oh my days it was amazing! I was a bit worried about ordering it because I usually find that pork is very dry and tough, especially when it’s served in a sandwich, but I noticed this was belly pork so I had to give it a go. It was beautiful, the meat was so juicy and tender it just fell apart and the mustard and gherkin relish worked with the pork so well. That along with a generous side of curly seasoned fries, it’s safe to say I was pretty full and satisfied when I’d finished. The MiL definitely agreed which was backed up with her empty plate! My sister said that her chicken was gorgeous with plenty of meat and the right amount of glaze but the portion was too big for her to finish. Again once we had finished eating, our plates were cleared very swiftly and we were offered a dessert menu or coffee’s but we were feeling a bit full so just opted to have another drink sayings as we still had an hour before the show started!


I was really impressed with every aspect of our visit to Las Iguanas. The whole meal, 2 starters, 3 mains, 8 cocktails and 2 pints of lager came to just under £70. Even the decor was lovely and the atmosphere of the whole place was very relaxing. And the cocktails? Well I could have happily sat and sampled them all night if we hadn’t booked the theatre! We’ve decided to book up for another show later in the year and I’ll be booking us a table here again- no doubt about it!


Mother Hermit xx

 

 

Ninja Burger Launch

Last night I was invited to the launch of Ninja Burger at late night bar No28 in Newcastle City Centre to test out their menu. Good excuse for a date night for me and G, so with the sister at home babysitting, we headed over to find out what it was all about.

We’ve never been to No28 before but we both fell in love with the place as soon as we went inside. Armed with our complimentary glass of fizz we took a seat and admired the place whilst we waited for the food to be dished up. The atmosphere of the bar is so relaxed and the decor is really quirky- we were sat next to a tree!

It wasn’t long before the first batch of sliders were revealed and they looked amazing! The thing about Ninja Burger is that they use fantastic local ingredients- the beef is prepared by Charlotte’s Butchery in Gosforth and the butter enriched Brioche buns are from the Geordie Bakers in Kingston Park. The burgers are cooked ‘sous vide’ (under pressure) where they are placed in a water bath for 95 hours or more (crazy right?!) at a regulated temperature of 55.6 degrees and the chicken is brined for that extra succulence and marinated in buttermilk and fried in popcorn crust. I kid you not- actual popcorn crust!

Now as far as cooking methods go, they clearly have it down to a tee because what we tasted was absolute PERFECTION. Everytime we go out for food G is guaranteed to get a burger but after sampling the sliders, and a full size one once all the photo’s had been snapped by everyone, he declared that these were the best burgers he’d ever tasted. I have to agree. The beef was ridiculously tender and juicy and packed full of flavour and the sauces, especially the mustard, worked so well and complimented it perfectly. The Brioche buns were so fresh too, no microwaved rubbish like you get elsewhere!

 

The chicken was just as succulent as the beef which we were really surprised at because we both usually find chicken burgers to be quite dry. As you can see by the photo’s I wasn’t lying about the popcorn coating- it was so so good and again works ridiculously well, giving the burger just the right amount of crunch.

After our menu tasting and a few glasses of fizz we had a bit of entertainment in the form of eating challenges. The first one was a heat challenge made up of chicken goujons laced with Ghost Chilli’s but none of the lads seemed too bothered by it- not even the chilli shot they were given at the end! The second challenge was to see who could eat the most full size burgers within 3 minutes (ended up being 4 because everyone was too busy watching the lads struggle!). I have to give a shout to the bloke with the microphone though- he totally made the entertainment and had everyone laughing.


Ninja Burger will have a permanent home at No28 and also cater for events and local pop-ups. As you can see by the photo above there are also options on the menu to suit vegetarian, vegan and gluten free. It was a great night and we thoroughly enjoyed it- perfect date night for us! We will be back for Ninja Burgers and drinks at this fantastic venue- I can’t wait to try the Dirty Fries!

You can find Ninja Burger on Facebook here.

 

Mother Hermit xx

Diary of an imperfect mum

Whitehouse Farm Centre

Bank holiday weekend! I love a long weekend together as a family but with me having our second baby only 10 weeks ago, we haven’t managed to have many family days out recently. So we decided that we wanted to go somewhere at least one of the days we have off together this weekend. When I was scrolling through Facebook last week I noticed an event pop up- one of those suggestion types- I noticed the date of the event was 30th April so I had a look. The event was for Whitehouse Farm Centre in Morpeth, Northumberland. This is somewhere we have always wanted to take V but just never seemed to get round to it, so when I looked further into the event information I got a little bit excited! The event was advertising a ‘Teddy Bear’s picnic’ where half price entry was granted for every child with a teddy and a full itinerary was detailed with anything from bottle feeding Lambs to grooming a Goat- I was sold! First thing we did this morning was pack V’s teddy bear Keegan and we were off!

And were off!

It took us around 40 minutes to get to the farm centre but it was so easy to find from where we live- and the two kiddies were an absolute dream for the journey which made it even better. Once we arrived we were met in the car park by a young man who directed us as to where we should park. Nice touch I thought, since it was our first time visiting and we were pretty clueless about where we were going! We changed into our wellies and headed straight for the entrance. V was quick to show the lady on the desk her teddy and after her discount we paid just under £25 to enter, including a bag of animal feed. G thought this was a bit steep (he moans a lot!)- until we walked inside that is!

V with her teddy Keegan

You first enter the centre by walking through the gift shop and events barn. There was a magic show taking place in the events barn and we could hear lots of laughter, but V was far too excited to see the animals so we didn’t stay to see any of it. We had been given a map including details of the day’s events and times and decided we’d head straight over to see the owls as a ‘meet the owls’ session was just about to begin. On our way there V was distracted by the giant Tortoise’s which she thought were amazing!

Daughter and Daddy going to have a look at the Tortoise’s

I don’t think I’ve ever really appreciated how beautiful Owl’s are! I was really taken with the Grey Owl- Smokie I think it’s name was- absolutely beautiful bird. V was a little scared of them because of the loud screeching noises they make so we didn’t stay long but could see people stroking them during the talk. V was more taken with the Willow Maze we had just walked past so off she went for a run around with her Daddy.

Smokie the Grey Owl

It started drizzling with rain during the run around and because we had B in the pushchair we decided to head into the petting barn which is indoors. We walked in to see lots of Goats, pretty lively ones too! V thought they were very funny jumping up to get their food and she wanted to have a try at feeding them. There are hand washing facilities placed all over the farm which is ideal because the last thing you want to be doing is trailing to the toilets and back every time you feed an animal!

Feeding the Goat’s

Next were the Rabbits, Rats, a Chinchilla, Skinny Pigs, various Reptiles, Meerkats, Monkeys, Hens and Parrots. V was pretty taken with the rabbits, I think it could be her next choice of pet. She loved being able to see right into each pen to see the animals and enjoyed being able to run around and explore on her own. We were even shocked to hear a squeal of delight when she spotted a snake!

The ‘aww so cute’ Rabbit
Skinny Pigs!

The rain had stopped by the time we had finished in the petting barn, lucky for us because V caught her eye on the huge adventure play area. Off she went to play on the slides whilst I sat on one of the seats inside the play area with her baby brother. Just as I sat down the sun came out!

Loving the slides
Out came the sun!

Once V had had a good play on the slides and tired herself out a bit we realised it was coming up to 12pm which meant lamb feeding time so we made our way up to the feeding area. The queue was huge to have a go at feeding the lambs so we decided not to bother, there’s no way V would have waited, but we did see other’s bottle feeding them and we got to see some gorgeous little Lamb’s in the barn. I could have took one home as a pet they are so adorable! But I enjoy a roast lamb dinner too much- sorry guys!

Feeding the Lambs

Next we went straight across into the Pig barn where V jumped straight into her Daddy’s arms! I think she was a bit shocked at the size of them- they were absolutely huge!- and confused at the fact that they look NOTHING like Peppa Pig! Oh and you might want to hold your nose when you go in that part! Once we came out of the Pig barn V seemed to be getting a bit tired so we headed for the Cafe to refuel.

Feeding Time- Kids Meal
Feeding Time- Mammy & Daddy’s Lunch

The food was gorgeous. V had a kids meal of Chicken Nuggets (Homemade), chips and cucumber and a Fruit Shoot which she put a good dent in after working up a serious appetite. G opted for a Honey Chilli Chicken sandwich and I had a Cheese Savoury. The coleslaw and sandwich fillings were clearly homemade and I think the bread rolls may have been too, they were very fresh and soft. All together, including G’s chips and two bottles of coke, it came to just under £15. I was really surprised with this because I was expecting to pay a lot more for what we had. You usually expect to have your eyeballs ripped out when eating on site at attractions but not today and it was worth every penny. Everything was delicious and we definitely weren’t left feeling hungry. The cafe barn itself was very clean and the staff were really friendly. As soon as a table was vacated a member of staff was straight there to clean and tidy it ready for the next person. There were also lots of highchairs, a microwave and a bottle warmer for those with babies. We used the toilets before we left to explore some more. They were surprisingly clean since we were on a farm which suggests to me that they’re cleaned at regular intervals. And off we went again for a quick play on the toy tractors just outside of the Cafe barn then back into the petting barn.

The Meerkats having their lunch
Meerkat Babies!
Monkey!
Feeding the Goats the last of the feed

Next we headed back to the adventure playground until V spotted the bouncy castles. She managed to get ten minutes before we noticed a sign for a sandpit, which she has a massive thing for, so we headed straight for it. Once she had a good play in the sand we headed back outside to find that the heavens had opened again, but this time we were getting soaked so we ran for the cover of the gift shop as the kids were both getting tired. V picked herself a windmill, a new drinking bottle and a colouring book- I don’t think this even came to £3! G sneakily bought me a present which was a fridge magnet with the best saying ever!

img_2307-2
Playing in the sandpit
Magnet
The magnet G bought me!

We spent 3 hours at Whitehouse Farm centre but with the amount of things there are to do, we could have easily spent the whole day if the weather was a bit better and the kids weren’t so tired. We didn’t get to the soft play, go-karts or have a tractor ride so they’re top of our list for next time. We didn’t really see any of the events with V being 2, she just wanted to run around and explore but as they get a bit older I can definitely imagine it being one of their favourite places! We enjoyed every second of our time and cannot wait to go back! If you’re local or even visiting nearby I definitely recommend you visit. It really is a fantastic day out and worth every penny!

Thanks for having us!

 

Mother Hermit xx